that stare omg

“we’re gonna take a picture of the whole group; just act natural.”

i thought i was over the 2x16 farewell scene but i just saw those gifs and broke down again… !! like!1

Clarke highkey looking like she was about to burst into tears if she looked at him any longer so she had to turn away abruptly… Bellamy barely holding his expression together and then as soon as she turns away his eyes close he exhales and his shoulders sag like all the weight of the world has just been placed on him because she’s left him alone I???

The aisles of Target

There was something about Target at night. There was something about the wall of TVs in the electronics section, showing news anchors and laundry detergent enthusiast bears speaking animatedly without making a sound. There was something about the bright red carts scattered around as though everyone had left in a hurry, when really it was 10:00 on a Wednesday, and the few who had spent a portion of the day at Target had left to eat and sleep and meet and get on with their lives, the abandoned carts a byproduct of their listless humanity. There was something about the rows upon rows of things people would never need, or would need once in their lifetimes. Like wooden spoons. A wooden spoon was a companion, something you bought for your first apartment and took with you to the grave. The people served by this Target surely didn’t need 30 wooden spoons at their disposal at any given time, let alone the 50 on the shelves. There was something about the florescent lights, white and bright, bright, illuminating everything. Nothing could hide under them, not shadows or ghosts or problems or sadness or, or –

Nursey turned down another aisle, this one lined with area rugs. His feet scuffed softly on the tile as he meandered, his hands in his pockets. A light buzzed softly above him. A Target at night was like another universe, he thought, a place out of time. Within its walls, it could be day, night, summer, winter, earth, mars. A Target could exist anywhere. Nursey imagined the world outside the front door had disappeared, left a dark void in its wake. He was the only human left, safe in this luminous bubble. Looking around, he found no evidence to the contrary.

It was not a very different feeling from the ones Nursey usually felt, as though he were alone, isolated, drifting. But inside the safe confines of Target, he found comfort.

Past the area rugs was a shelf of soap dispensers. They all looked the same. They all had the same form and function, all a variation on a neutral gray or brown, but for some reason, all two dozen of them needed to be there, individually labeled and priced. There were two, both white, both with a silver pump, that were priced at $8 and $15, respectively. Why were they different prices? Why was one worth more money, time, labor? Someone would pay an hour’s work for that soap dispenser, two for the other, hours of their life and attention and consciousness. It was all meaningless.  

Nursey had to turn away. He was just studying a woman on a poster, a woman whose face was pulled up, as though in a smile but not happily. He squinted his eyes, trying to decipher what was wrong with the seemingly pleasant picture, when something smashed into his shoulder. Hard. Nursey was thrown off balance, but someone grabbed his arm roughly, keeping him upright.

“Sorry! Are you – wait. What the fuck? Nursey?”

Nursey looked up into familiar amber eyes and an equally familiar frown.

“What are you doing here?”

“What are you doing here?”

“I asked first.”

“I’m not the one who almost knocked a guy on his ass. So.”

“I came to pick up some stuff. Chowder and I are watching a movie. We needed those cheese pretzel nugget things. I texted you a bunch.”

“Oh.” Nursey didn’t have the energy to elaborate, to say that he’d turned his phone off to be alone. That would inevitably lead to questions about why he’d wanted to be alone and what was wrong and why he hadn’t just talked to someone. He knew his team had his back, but sometimes Nursey needed to figure out how to have his own back. It was a struggle.

He let Dex assume his phone had died.

Dex glanced away, shifted his weight between his feet.

“I think the cheese pretzel things are that way,” Nursey said. He made a gesture with his head to indicate the way from which he came, past the god forsaken soap dispensers and the area rugs.

“Alright.” Dex turned, and Nursey walked beside him. On the way, he raised a hand, letting his fingers trail over the rugs, standing upright in a line. Some were hard and some were thick and some were soft. The friction made the pads of his fingers tingle. They turned at the end of the row, heading to the other side of the store, where the food was.

“So,” Dex said after a moment. “What you missed from my texts was that Chowder and I planned on a movie night because Farmer cancelled on him for some emergency volleyball team thing. Chowder won the coin toss for the movie.”

“Really?” Nursey couldn’t help interjecting. Chowder never won the coin toss.

Dex chuckled. “Yeah, right? First time in three years.”

Another wave came over Nursey. Holy shit. Three years. It felt like last week that he was standing in Faber, waiting for an elusive tour guide carrying promised mini pies, making small talk with an over enthusiastic kid in teal and attempting to make small talk with an awkward, grumpy kid in plaid. And then out of nowhere three years are behind him and almost no years ahead, and soon Nursey really would be alone. The illusion wouldn’t be left at the door of Target, it would be real, just him floating, untethered, and then –

“The Lion King. That’s what he picked with his first win, like, ever. The fucking Lion King. Can you believe it?”

It was like lifting a bag of bricks, but Nursey managed to quirk a half smile. “Yeah.”

Dex barked a laugh. It was harsh in the echoing not-quite-silence, a silence tainted by the white noise buzz of distant freezers and lights and machines. “Yeah, so can I. Then after that we tossed again to see who would get the pretzels, and Chowder fucking won again! And I was like, ‘no fucking way it happens again. No fucking way he’ll get three for three.’ So we tossed to see who’d pay. And he lost. And all was right with the world. But for a second there I thought – “

And for the rest of the way through Target Dex rambled on about Chowder and something with Bitty and the rest of Dex’s day. Dex was not a rambler. Nursey was silently grateful. He just walked next to Dex, sometimes paying attention, sometimes not. It didn’t matter. Dex never asked anything of him, so whatever Nursey was able to give was more than enough, even his half attention. By the time they’d reached checkout, Nursey was feeling appreciably better. He threw a candy bar on the conveyer belt and managed a wink when Dex gave him a withering look.

Dex paid the cashier in what was apparently Chowder’s money and the two left, laden with a candy bar and three boxes of frozen, cheese-stuffed pretzels. Dex picked up where he’d left off, at some story about Lardo coming to the haus this weekend for something or other, as they headed to Dex’s truck, the shittiest of the three cars in the lot.

‘Shittiest’ was used here affectionately. That truck had been and would go to places Nursey could only imagine. It wouldn’t go to exotic, foreign lands, over boarders or across oceans, but it would travel to the house of a loving grandmother, the port of a town that anchored those held dear, places of firsts and lasts and love and memory. Yeah, there was plenty of affection.

Nursey climbed in and Dex pulled out onto the road, voice soft and constant, providing a reprieve. Nursey closed his eyes and just listened, stopped thinking for a while. His heart swelled.

When the truck pulled over in front of the haus, Nursey opened his eyes. They’d parked under a streetlight. The light cut through the truck, orange, harsh and hot. It stuck to Dex’s hair, his cheekbones, his shoulders, and threw the rest of him in darkness. Nursey could barely see Dex’s eyes, but he thought they were looking at his knees, where his hands fidgeted, long, knobby fingers knotting together. Those hands that could hold a hockey stick, sure, but also fix a washer or write a computer code or any number of things Nursey wouldn’t even know how to start.

Maybe there was plenty of affection there, too.

“Hey,” Nursey murmured, interrupting a story about Dex’s brother.

Dex cut off, looked up at him.

“Thank you,” he said. Because Dex had pulled him back from the edge tonight. Sometimes the edge was necessary; sometimes he needed to step up to it and look down below at the big, sad, horrible picture laid out below him. Nursey had a tendency to see the big, sad, and horrible. But sometimes he needed to be reminded that the big picture wasn’t all there was, it was made up of small moments, shorter spans that were filled with nothing but happiness – hockey and friends and the Lion King and cheese-filled pretzels.

Nursey was agonizing over the possibility of future loneliness at a time when he was anything but alone.

Dex reached across the bench seat and took Nursey’s hand, pulled gently. Nursey slid toward him until their thighs were pressed together. Dex turned to the side and hugged Nursey to him, wrapped his arms around his shoulders and squeezed. Nursey relished the warmth, tucked his arms in and rested his head on Dex’s shoulder. It was kind of hard and bony, but that didn’t make a difference. Here, Dex was like Target, a safe barrier between him and everything else. But now, instead of finding comfort in being alone, in feeling empty, Nursey was full, full to the brim.

Nursey lifted his head, placed both hands on either side of Dex’s neck where it met his shoulders. He pressed their lips together, tender and brief.

“Thank you,” he said again, looking into Dex’s eyes from about three inches away.

“I worry,” Dex replied.

“About what?”

“About you. I’m just glad I found you.”

“Me too.” Nursey thought for a moment. “But you shouldn’t. Worry, I mean. I think I do enough of that for the both of us.”

“I’ll do some so you don’t have to.”

Nursey ducked his head in again, this kiss longer than the one before. Dex’s thumb moved in a little circle on his back.

“It’ll be alright, you know,” Dex said when they pulled apart.

Nursey considered that. He’d been the one to leave tonight, and Dex had found him. He was afraid of Dex and Chowder and the rest leaving, so rather than confront that, he’d left first, tried to find it in him to distance himself before they could.

But Nursey should have known better. Dex and Chowder were the best friends he’d ever had. He was on an entire team that accepted who he really was, not who he pretended to be in front of so many others. So far, they’d been the exceptions to Nursey’s rules. Maybe they’d be the first to stay.

Dex said it would be alright. And for the first time, tentatively, Nursey believed it.